Monday, July 28, 2008

More from SDCC

I like all the attention Batman has received over the past months (not just due to the movie mind you) and since I've been getting closer to catching up on Grant Morrison's Batman work it's good to hear that he and Paul Dini, writer of Detective Comics, would like to stay on the book indefinitely. But that's not why I'm linking to this particular i09 article. The article itself is a good run down of how the Joker fares as a Batman villain, but Morrison hits on something that the politico-blogosphere would rather ignore. At the end of the article Morrison explains why Batman remains relevant in contemporary society:

"That's why Batman is so cool. He doesn't use guns and he still kicks your ass. That's the whole point. That's his psychology. If Batman kills everyone, he's just another soldier. We don't need another soldier, we have millions of soldiers. We need Batman."
All the commentary about The Dark Knight has focused on the film's tacit affirmation of President Bush's tactics in the war on terror--certainly on the idea of a surveillance society and the use of torture in interrogations. But right here we have one of the best Batman writers describing a Batman that runs completely counter to the pundits opinion. Perhaps I'm being overly critical of the pundits or ignoring their magnificent powers of reasoning, but I'd take the opinion of the guy who writes the regular Batman comic over theirs. I'm just funny that way. And Morrison is too, as his characterization of Batman in both his run on JLA at the end of the 90s and his current run on Batman is of Batman as almost god-like in his mental prowess. Batman still kicks and punches his way to victory, but he knows which people to kick and punch versus the random shots in the dark the Bush administration takes. Even when DC took Batman in the direction of becoming a control freak with his construction of the ├╝ber-surveillance satellite Brother Eye, it was done as a way of breaking down Batman to his core drive: the desire to prevent things like what happened to him and his parents from happening to anyone else.
Much as the end of The Dark Knight has Batman taking responsibility for the actions of others, so too does the Batman of the DCU take on the responsibility of bringing the same fear he faced to criminals so others don't have to suffer. But he wants the criminals to suffer and they can't suffer if they are dead. A Batman with a gun is no Batman at all (no points awarded for pointing to the earliest issues, thank you very much). Morrison gets this, as has most other Batman writers since Frank Miller. Batman's no punk with a gun but the pinnacle of what a man of justice is.